Anxiety Posted January 3, 2019

I am a Christian with anxiety.

Sounds silly, doesn't it? Christians are supposed to be overflowing with joy. Jesus died on the cross to atone for our sins, so we would be secured eternally as children of God. How could there possibly be a wet blanket over my soul, and why can't I just appreciate what He did for me?

I try to be open about my emotional struggles, but a lot people who identify as Christian are quick to point out how it's all stemmed from some kind of control issue, or how I need to "have more faith" and "read the Bible more" and "address unconfessed sin." But this isn't a one-size-fits-all solution that Christians make it out to be. Many of us don't think of the possibility that there may be something chemically wrong with the person in question.

My life has not been the same since I had a panic attack ten years ago. I was having a peaceful and uneventful night before my central nervous system inexplicably threw itself into a physiological meltdown. It felt like I was having a stroke and a heart attack at the same time. I nearly had an accident trying to drive myself to the hospital. I couldn't go back to work or school for several months.

I used to be extroverted and outgoing, and I embraced every opportunity to have fun. Every day is now a struggle to get out of bed, and the thought of being in any group setting is enough for me to hyperventilate. I understand that perfect love casts out all fear (1 Jn. 4:18), but having the inability to process information at random intervals or when it matters the most is a whole different issue. Every setback and loss I experience hurts like hell, and I often cry out to God...

"Why won't you heal me?"
"Why would you allow this?"
"Why can't I function like every other person?"

But I have come to realize in recent years that even the most celebrated disciples and followers of Jesus were not infallible. Apostle Paul noted about his ‘thorn in the flesh’ (2 Cor. 12:7), which could have alluded to his opposition, physical affliction, or even mental distress. In any case, it was a tool used by Satan and it continually brought shame and embarrassment to Paul. He prayed several times for it to go away. The response?

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. - 2 Cor. 12: 8-9

Keep in mind that Paul was a prominent religious leader and an all-around important guy before meeting Christ. After meeting Him, he stated that “…whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. For His sake, I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish” (Phil. 3:7-11). Any sense of pride robs God of the glory of His grace, and allows us to vainly believe in an illusion of our own self-righteousness. The work of Christ on the cross is 100% grace. The fact that you woke up this morning is 100% grace. That breath you are drawing right now is 100% grace. And His grace covers us… even if aren't feeling quite like ourselves.

If not a daily reminder that we are nothing without Christ, maybe there is someone reading this who is shouting, “Yes, finally… someone who understands!”

Maybe it will be enough to encourage their church to learn more about mental health and disorders.

Maybe every believer can be convinced that it's okay to reveal their thorns instead of covering them up.

And maybe then... some much needed healing can take place, and the global church body can be all the more healthier for it.